Richard (Dick) Whittingham spent all his working life at de Havilland, starting as an apprentice in 1935 and finishing up as a senior production engineer. This is the third extract from Dick’s wartime diaries, adapted by his nephew Roger Coasby, and it gives a personal insight into those exciting days at Hatfield in the early 1940’s.
“One day in 1942 Geoffrey Pike was due to fly a Mosquito with two dummy 1000lb bombs, one under each wing. I weighed both bombs; had them hoisted into position, jettisoned them, had them hoisted up again, ran the engines, cleared it for flight and went home to lunch. When I returned, Geoffrey arrived, made sure that I had checked that the bombs could be dropped and took off. We immediately saw that he was in trouble. As soon as he left the ground he went into a sudden left bank and had great difficulty in levelling up. He landed straightaway and I dropped both bombs only to find to my horror that one was filled with lead shot but the other one was empty and of course much lighter. Upon making enquiries I learned that while I was at lunch someone had come over from the Production Flight Test, borrowed a bomb for a few minutes, but brought a different one back! And no one had thought to tell me…..
I flew with Geoffrey Pike in Mosquitoes from time to time. On one occasion we were returning to Hatfield and were flying over The de Havilland Works at Leavesden when Geoffrey said ‘this will shake them’ and feathered both props. After a few moments he leaned forward and un-feathered the port one. However, in his excitement he looked over my shoulder at the starboard prop which of course was still motionless. By this time he was getting rather agitated as we were starting to lose height. So I pointed over his shoulder at the port prop which was windmilling away and waiting for a touch of throttle and he realised what he had done and all was well. Nothing was said after that flight.”
Part four of Dick Whittingham’s diary will be published next month.
Roger Coasby is a member of the De Havilland Aeronautical Technical School Association. You can find out more about the DHAeTSA, which has over 500 members, on our Affiliates page here.
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